IL: Catfish creating a surprise late autumn spark for anglers Issue: 25

The fishing and hunting report is compiled using reports from
conservation officers, hunting guides, and the following sporting
goods stores:

North

Lake Michigan: According to Cory Yarmuth,
(www.legend-outdoors.com), browns and steelhead are in the harbors
in full strength. Spawn sacks under a float are working well as
well as the standard tinsel or white tube jig tipped with wax
worms. The steelhead bite is starting to increase in the downtown
harbors with spawn being a primary choice of baits. Throwing inline
spinners and small crankbaits will often produce some reaction
strikes and you may run into a coho or two as well. Choose brighter
colored baits if the water is slightly stained. With clear water,
switch to a muted color or a more natural color. Navy pier and the
downtown harbors are starting to produce some perch. The fish are
ranging in size and a lot of sorting is required, but crappie rigs
with fathead minnows seem to be producing the best. The boats have
been getting great limits in 30 to 40 feet of water on minnows and
jigging spoons. Launching out of 95th Street or out of Cal Park and
fishing the channel and surrounding lakefront has been producing
many limits of big perch. Fishing bottom rigs with minnows and
feather-tied hooks has been the top producer. The laker bite has
really slowed down but some lakers are being caught trolling
dodgers with Spin-n-glows along the reef near the Port of Indiana.
The hot colors have been copper/chart and chart/orange dots. They
are being found in 20 to 40 feet of water around and on top of the
reef. Jigging gulp or white tubes near the bottom also have been
producing some good catches of lake trout. There have been some
really good reports from the city harbors of good-size smallmouths
being caught. The smallmouths are being caught all the way down
into the Portage area of Indiana. Goby-style baits on jigs as well
as “Drop-shot” rigs are putting some good fish in the boat. With
the cooling water, these fish are really starting to feed up for
the winter.

Chain: According to Yarmuth, the walleye bite has been slow with
some fish being taken live bait rigging on the breaklines. Also
spinner rigs and bottom bouncers with night crawlers near the
weedlines. The channels between the lakes as well as the bridge
pilings have been holding fish. The panfish bite is very
consistant. Fish small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies under
a slip float. Also drop shotting small plastics on the deep
breaklines has been producing some good catches of crappies. The
fish are suspending and you need to watch your graph closely.
Follow the fish as they move. For the bluegills, fish the weedbeds
and set your depth to just above the weeds. The shallow portions of
the bays seem to be producing quite well as well as the channel
areas found between lakes. Find the thick weedbeds in 8 feet of
water or less and the gills will be there, but look for deeper
water for the white bass and crappies.

Shabbona: Crappies are being caught over the fish cribs. Search the
cribs that surround each of the land piers. The secret to success
this time of the year is to use a lively minnow. You will have to
continually change your minnow because they don’t last long. Perch
are still being caught along the deeper weedlines. Use minnows near
the bottom for best results.

South

Crab Orchard Lake: Catfish action has slowed somewhat. Bluegill
action also has slowed, although some fish are still being caught
along the rip rap on crickets and wax worms. Bass action is good on
a variety of baits fished around shallow cover.

Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being
caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip rap and
catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms
or wax worms occasionally.

Carlyle Lake: Channel cats are good on the lake for anglers
drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Good catches
reported near Keyesport and Boulder. Flatheads are also biting,
with a 43-pounder caught recently near the spillway on a bluegill.
Cut bait also working as are slab spoons thrown up along the wall.
Crappie fishing is good below the dam.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskie action has been excellent. Anglers trolling
and casting are picking up fish. Spinner baits and shallow running
baits are the most effective. Crappie fishing is rated fair.
Anglers are taking fish at varied depths, from 2 to 18 feet.
Minnows are the primary bait. Catfish and bluegill action has been
slow. However, bass anglers are reporting good success on spinner
baits.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie action remains slow. Some fish are being
caught on curlytails and minnows. Most fish are being located in 8
to 10 feet in front of weedbeds. Bass are still rated fair on soft
plastics. Catfish action picked up recently, fishing shrimp in
shallow water.

Lake Murphysboro: Catfish action remains excellent, particularly in
the morning and early evening. Most anglers are using chicken liver
and night crawlers. Bass are also rated fair to good. Crappie
anglers are finding fish are various depths. Minnows are the
preferred bait. Bluegill action is slow.

Little Grassy: Catfish action remains steady throughout the lake.
Night crawlers are the most effective bait. Crappie fishing has
slowed somewhat. Fish are still deep. A couple of nice fish were
taken recently, but numbers were down. Minnows are the primary
bait. Bass action remains fair.

Rend Lake: Crappies are still rated good on minnows, chartreuse
jigs, white jigs and pink/green jigs. Fish are being caught over
Christmas tree sets and near bridge pillars in 6-10 feet of water.
The Route 154 rip rap, Gun Creek bridge and the sailboat harbor
wall have all been productive areas. Catfish action also has been
good. Catfish anglers are working rip rap areas, Gun Creek, the
subimpoundment dams and shallow areas. Shrimp, night crawlers,
shiners, and stink baits have all been effective.

Central

Lake Sara (Effingham): The crappie bite has been hot. The bait
of choice is small jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes under
floats. Skipping under the deeper docks or finding the submerged
timber and green weeds is working.

Evergreen Lake: Crappies are found in 6 and 18 feet of water and
running between 6 and 11 inches long. Minnows and slip bobbers
accounted for a majority of the catches. Note: Bowfishing is closed
on Evergreen Lake and all tributaries within the park
boundaries.

Rivers

Fox River: The water temps have dropped quite a bit, and the
walleyes are on the move up to the dams. There have been reports of
some fish being caught on minnow-style stick baits as well as jig
and minnow combination. Look for the deeper holes that are
surrounded by gravel bottoms and rocky structure. The bite has been
best just after dark and prior to sunrise. These fish are moving
around a lot so cover an area really well to trigger one of these
big girls to strike.

The smallmouth action is slowing down. Fish can be caught, but now
is the time to look for some of the warm- water discharges found
along the river. Fish using live minnows with a small hook and a
few split shot about 12 inches above the hook. Cast into the
eddies. Also bouncing 1⁄8-ounce jigs with white- or
crawfish-colored twister tails can produce some respectable fish.
Work the jig slow and fish the current seams and slack water.

Illinois River: The sauger are up on the flats as in the 12 to 14
feet of water range off the main river channels. Vertical jigging
jigs with minnows or pulling “three-way” rigs is working. Also
casting or vertical jigging blade style baits.

The white bass are starting to slow down. White jig and twister
combos with a minnow are quite productive. Blade baits will put
some of the larger more aggressive fish in the boat. Look for some
good current breaks around the islands as well as the mouth of
tributary waters that are coming into the main river. These fish
can be found chasing the small shad, and there is a great chance of
landing some really big fish.

Check the water conditions prior to heading out as the river as
this stage can get dicey.

Des Plaines River: The walleyes are still being found using jerk
baits and jointed minnow baits. They are being taken in the evening
hours working the deeper holes that are adjacent to shallow water.
Good numbers of northern pike are also to be found fishing live
bait under a float or throwing inline spinners and jerk
baits.

Kankakee River: In the Momence area, smallmouth bass fishing is
good around shoreline pools on spinners, crank baits and minnows.
Crappies are coming on minnows, pinkie jigs and small
spinners.

In the Aroma Park area, try around remains of the old dam for some
walleyes on jigs and minnows.

Waterfowl Report

In southern Illinois, an aerial survey conducted Nov. 26
indicated duck and goose numbers are still at half of historical
levels.

Just 59,450 ducks were counted. The five-year average is
92,040.

Pyramid State Park was holding 13,600 ducks, followed by Union
County 13,000, Rend Lake 9,200, Carlyle Lake 7,800, Crab Orchard
7,100, Keck’s Marsh 4,450, Cache River 2,500, Horseshoe Lake 1,000
and Mermet Lake 800.

Mallards, gadwall, ringnecks and dabblers were the most numerous
ducks in the region.

In the meantime, the census showed just 1,840 Canada geese in the
region. The five-year average is 4,372.

Du Quoin State Fairgrounds had the largest flock, 750, followed by
Crab Orchard 315, Pyramid State Park 200, Ten Mile Creek 175,
Mermet Lake 150, Vandalia Lake 125, Ballard County, Ky. 50,
Horseshoe Lake 25 and Keck’s Marsh 25.

The snow goose population was established at 14,200, well below the
five-year average of 22,352.

The vast majority of snows, 13,000, were spotted at Pyramid State
Park. There were 500 snows at Rend Lake, 500 at Carlyle Lake and
200 at Union County.

Hunting Zones

Waterfowl hunting zones

North Zone: That portion of the state north of a line extending
west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois
Route 50, south along Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road,
west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53, north
along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New
River Road to Interstate Highway 55, south along I-55 to Pine
Bluff-Lorenzo Road, west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois
Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80, west along I-80 to
I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route 18, west along Illinois
Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to
Illinois Route 17, west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi
River, and due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa
border.

Central Zone: That portion of the state south of the North Zone to
a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate
Highway 70 to Illinois Route 4, south along Illinois Route 4 to
Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route
158, south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159,
south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 156, west along
Illinois Route 156 to A Road, north and west on A Road to Levee
Road, north on Levee Road to the south shore of New Fountain Creek,
west along the south shore of New Fountain Creek to the Mississippi
River, and due west across the Mississippi River to Missouri.

 

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